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Morehouse and Howard Celebrate the Inaugural AT&T Nation’s Football Classic Weekend


(September 8-11, 2011) WASHINGTON, D.C. – The inaugural AT&T Nation’s Football Classic weekend in Washington, D.C., didn’t end with only one winning side, President Robert Franklin Jr. ’75 told a capacity audience at Howard University’s Amour J. Blackburn University Center.

“We have been the privileged ones to sit in the presence of extraordinary students…. And then Saturday there was a great meeting of two great teams – and one great team won. I pay tribute to the Howard Bison today. But there will be next year. We celebrate a victory for all of us.”

The renewal of the 88-year-old Howard-Morehouse football rivalry (Howard nipped Morehouse 30-27 in a close and thrilling game) was the centerpiece of the weekend. Thousands of maroon-clad alumni, students, faculty, staff from Morehouse and Spelman cheered, tailgated and attended a number of receptions and parties across the District.

But the academic tradition of both institutions was also highlighted each day.

During the daylong Presidential Symposium on Thursday, Franklin, Howard President Sidney Ribeau, Arkansas Baptist College President Fitzgerald Hill and author Michael Eric Dyson discussed black male achievement with moderator Fredricka Whitfield of CNN.

“What can be more important today than the African American family and you can’t talk about that without discussing the well being and nurturing of African American males,” Ribeau said.

Morehouse psychology professor Bryant Marks ’94, executive director of the Morehouse Male Initiative, presented his findings on black male college students, while English professor Stephane Dunn moderated a discussion on the black male college experience.

“We stay up until three, four or five in the morning, talking about social issues,” said Morehouse SGA President Travis Randle, who was joined by senior psychology major Ryan Boles, Howard SGA President Brandon Harris and his vice president, Derrien Hinton. “These are the kinds of conversations many of us had never had before. But students are also involved in talking about solutions.”

Personality psychology professor David Wall Rice ’95 talked about black male masculinity with actor Isaiah Washington, Washington Post sports columnist Jason Reid, Howard professor Greg Carr and film director Seith Mann. Mann will teach in Morehouse’s new Cinema, Television and Emerging Media Studies Program.

Cramton Auditorium was filled to capacity Friday as debaters from Howard and Morehouse took part in the inaugural Mordecai Wyatt Johnson-Benjamin E. Mays Student Debate.

Franklin closed the weekend with the Sunday Chapel Service sermon. The service was moved from the Andrew Rankin Chapel because of the huge crowd. Among the attendees were Spelman president Beverly Tatum and Vernon Jordan, a former adviser to President Bill Clinton.

With his sermon coming exactly 10 years after the Sept. 11th tragedies in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, Franklin told the crowd that it was all right to still feel sadness. But it was also a time to remember, reflect, heal, rebuild and help others.

“What time is it in your life today?” he asked. “What are you called to do now at this moment, in this season, of your life? Always be generous to others and let the warmth of your life melt the ice around us.”
To see a photos and videos from the AT&T Nation's Football Classic weekend, go to

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